Thursday, March 21, 2013

Games We Played by: Karen Pilarski


It is often been said that today’s youth are being brought up as ‘indoor’ children.

Countless hours of Play Station, Facebook, texting and Netflix certainly paved the way for this type of upbringing. Not to sound trite or old, but in ‘my day’ kids were told to go outside all day.

In the summer I was outside playing with the neighborhood children and my siblings. No text messages to tell us to come in. The sign was when the sun went to bed behind the puffy clouds and the street lights lit up the sidewalks. Often I was so engrossed in running around I barely heard the sound of my mom calling us in for dinner.  

Milwaukee was fun for adults, but for a kid in Bay View, not so much. I had creativity on my side to break the dullness of a Saturday.  

 The following are games my brothers and sisters played.  Modifications can be made but it sure beat the mind numbing repetition of clicking on a computer or cell phone.


The first game is Statue. In a large group someone is appointed store owner and another person is the Devil (the customer). The rest of the players are statues. Each person comes up with their character description and whisper in the store keeper’s ear.  Often the statue is something related to popular culture and some mean action. In the 80’s a popular statue was a ninja Bart Simpson or a Tiffany that traps people with bubble gum. 

The devil or customer comes into the outdoor shop and the store owner instructs the devil to wash his hands with holy water. All the statues are posed as the devil strolls around the shop. He randomly asks what a statue is and the store owner asked if he wants to try it out.

The store owner taps the statue and it jolts to life. The store owner says the description and the statue chases around the devil. The devil cries to make it stop. The store owner taps the statue again and it freezes. Although there is no stated goal this game promoted creativity and activity. 

Another game we played was Captain May I?

A Captain is chosen and stands at the front of the yard. Other places are at the end of the yard lined up next to each other.

The Captain takes turns telling each player how many steps and the size of the steps to take. There are baby steps, normal steps, huge scissor steps and leaps. If you forget to ask ‘Captain May I?” you forfeit the turn.  The Captain also can tease a player but denying them after they ask.

The object is to make it up to the Captain to take over control of the yard. This game taught kids how to be polite, counting and how to detect bluffing. 

We also had indoor games when it was rainy or cold. My brothers and sisters played a game called “Sharky.” We would line up the couch cushions on the ground and pretend it was a lilly pad.  

 My brother Tim was always the ‘shark.’ Each of us took turns jumping on the cushions across the living room as the others chanted “Sharky sharky doo doo!” My brother the shark would jump around and try to knock us off the lilly pad. If we fell off we were a shark as well. 

We played other games but we clearly weren’t using common sense but man, we had a ball. We were so poor we couldn’t afford a slip and slide. You know that ugly yellow tarp thing that you skinned your elbows on? As a kid we lived in a house at the time that had a long porch. We sprayed the porch down with water and took turns sliding across the front porch.

One day my twin brother was sliding down our poor man’s slipped and slide when my older brother opened the metal screen door. SLAM!

My twin smacked his face against the door causing a bloody face. Some crying occurred followed by Dad’s shouting. Thus that concluded poor man’s slip and slide. 

Another not so smart game was the first annual doll Olympics. My younger sister and I would toss our dolls in air to see who would make it higher. We made them do somersaults and acrobatic moves.  On the first event my sister threw up her ugly doll with tomato red hair.

To my horror the doll flew and whacked me in the face.  My tooth went flying out. I cried, my sister laughed and Dad once again yelled. My swollen face and defeated pride stopped the fun right there. That was the first and last doll Olympics in our household. 

Lastly we played the dandelion game. We plucked a dandelion off the ground and would recite the following line, “Mama had a baby and the head popped off.” Then we would pop off the head of the dandelion. This generally disturbed babysitters and our parents.

We also would trick the younger kids by claiming we would be able to see if they love butter. We would shove the dandelion under their chins to see if there was a yellow globe. Then promptly rub it on their faces. This game was basically a vehicle to help with yard work and torment younger kids. 

Parents please take these ideas and adapt and modify them into new games for kids to play. Think of how much your electric bill will go down just by having the kids play outside instead of being inside and on your nerves.